Friday, April 30, 2010

New Toy!

Finally my new ruling pen arrived! I'm very excited. I ordered it for a project coming up after Tell-Tale Heart is done. (yes, it's far from being done, and I have a couple of books to make before hand as well, but I can't keep myself from dreaming up all kinds of new things to do). I've only used this once, at a calligraphy evening a couple years ago and couldn't find on in Regina so when I finally remembered what it was called I order one from ebay. There will be much practice on some old books I have lying around because I quite like when things are made on top of old pages. I may make some book projects out of the good ones.

Ruling pens are nifty little instruments that can be adjusted with that little knob on the side to make finer or broader lined, and, if I can manage to figure out how, will make one side (the one nearest the tip) of the letter nice and smooth while the other side (the open side) ragged and splattery. It can be used with ink and watercolour, of course, and also works great with masking fluid. I think it should also be great for my gilding size, whenever my gold leaf arrives. So many possibilities!

Stay tunes for results!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Gift Wrapping!

One of my books was purchased yesterday as a gift, so the new owner doesn't want an invoice or anything included. But it just doesn't feel quite right sending it off plain. (I usually include a thank you card). So I got out the giant roll of paper I nabbed at Art Junktion and used my pumpkin stamp all over it to make wrapping paper. tada! I quite like it, even just using some leftover ink, so I think I'll get a nice bright red stamp pad so I can do this whenever I need. I'd love to get some heavier paper or cardboard and actually make boxes, then stamp the tissue paper inside and really do it up, just like at the jewellery store. I will keep a look out for something suitable.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Tell-Tale Heart - out damned spot

This layout is one of the ones that fell on a centre page, so I could play a bit with the layout as it's all one instead of separate pages. I managed to get the emphasized words on this page, so I broke the borders of text and spread them across the full layout. I didn't really like the ampersand at the top right so I tried to get a couple drops of ink on it and ended up with ink everywhere! Actually, I really like how it turned out.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Tell-Tale Heart - again and again and again

I'm afraid I'm still without anything particularly interesting to say about this page. It's, you know, pretty much the same thing I've been doing all along. I like the 'oh, no!' bit on the left. Some of the ink spots on the very edges are leaks from the next page. But it's ok, they look good and didn't smudge. I did a couple of words oriented vertically ('when' and 'been'), and now I've noticed they're in the exact same position on each page. I'm not sure if I should be annoyed at that or claim it's a design choice for very good and artistic reasons. If I learned anything at art school at was how to bs and so I will think of something clever to explain why it was necessary and how that makes me smarter than everyone else. Oh art school.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Tell-Tale Heart - still ticking away

I'm afraid I don't have anything terribly interesting to tell you about this page. Things are going pretty smoothly and I'm really happy to just be getting some good work done. This page is a little different because the short paragraph on the left (starting with the big 'I' in red) ended at the bottom of the left page, so the writing doesn't go all the way to the bottom, and starts at the second line of the right hand page. I suppose that did provide a little bit different layout.

This is the last of the second signature and first of the third, so I'm about 2/5 done the text portion of this project. I majority of the work was the planning, though, and even if I'm not sure exactly how much work will go into the binding, so lets say I'm about half way! It feels good to be at a stage where I can look at it and tell what it's going to be.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Tell-Tale Heart - Devil in the details

Here we go with another page. I traced the layout in green and it was much much easier to see the words through the paper. I copied the page following this one as well, before I had gone over the writing to thicken parts up and added the red and whatnot, because there was much less ink in the way. (Take a look at this photo of a page at that point.) So much quicker this way! This should make the upcoming pages much easier to copy, especially since some of the end pages are very complicated.

Here's a close-up from the top right corner. I've done this sort of thing all over the place - using one large letter to begin two words. In a few place I've used the same word to begin different phrases as well. I like to do this if I can especially when the phrases are repetitive. I think it works with the strange placement of the words and the whole feeling that the author is crazy.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Postcard Guestbook

At last! The postcard wedding guestbook I've been working on for the last week and a half. It's huge! I knew it was going to be big, but when it's there in real life all put together it's really huge. It got a bit unwieldy with the size and lightness because of the windows. I think once it's full of postcards it will be great, just like the last postcard book I made. Anyway. Lovely and romantic, I hope she likes it!

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Tell-Tale Heart - more pages

I needed a bit of a break from the millions of photo corners for the guestbook I'm working on, so I went back to The Tell-Tale Heart for a couple of pages.

Ok, actually, there is nothing terribly interesting about this page. I found a couple of spelling mistakes before I got to the inking, so I didn't even have to fix anything after the fact!

Work Smart Not Hard?

I'm working on a custom guestbook right now. It's going to be a really really neat book when it's done, but just right now I'm wondering what I've gotten myself into.

This is for a destination wedding, and instead of a traditional book the guest are going to be sending postcards back home. Cool, right? Well, I got a little carried away when I heard the idea and saw the photo this is based on, which simply used some string on a piece of paper. See every other post: making things a hundred times more complicated. So I said, ooooh, lets do photo corners instead, and a window so you can see both sides of the postcard! I wasn't thinking this quite all the way through, though, because that means handmaking photo corners, eight per postcard so they're on either side! argh!

I cut them out too big as well, first, so I had to recut all 352 when I was folding them. Yup... there must have been a better way of doing that. One thing did go very well, though. To get the window in the paper (I found a nice heavy printmaking paper that will support the postcards very well) I traced a template on the first page only, then used my awl and punched holes all the way through. Tranfered the pattern in minutes! Of course, I then realized it was too small because the photo corners had to sit outside the window, leaving a small mat around them so the postcard wasn't simply floating inside the opening. But that was minor. Still, next time I do one page start to finish so I know all the things I might encounter before I start the assembly line of all the little ingredients.

At the moment I'm at the stage of gluing all the photo corners on. I'm actually sewing binding thread through the outside corner as well because I find photo corners tend to lift, and since this book is supposed to last for a very long time I want them staying where I put them! The outside cover will be a lovely ivory bookcloth I have with a ribbon spine. I hope it looks as lovely and romantic as I think it will! And that it's finished in the next few days... stay tuned!

Saturday, April 17, 2010


While I was in Winnipeg last weekend I went to a really cool little place called ArtsJunktion. They started out as a way for teachers to get art supplies, taking donations of things like old tiles from construction sites, old wallpaper sample books from paint stores, bits of fabric, buttons, etc. Basically, anything people were going to throw out but creative types can use for art.

It's expanded and anyone can go. They even offer classes, exhibitions, auctions, and are looking into getting an artist-in-residence. It's free, just walk in a load up on anything you think will come in useful. All you have to do is right down approximately how many cubic feet you saved from the landfill, using that red basket as a guide.

I got a big roll of newsprint, some fabric, an old Canadopoly board game and page from a Canadian stamp collecting book. I'm going to use those last two to make a postcard book or journal to be used when I travel.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bookbinding Feature

The Bookbinding Team I belong to, BEST, runs an interview every Friday featuring a member of the group. This week it me, so head over there to check it out. If you found your way here from there for the first time, I hope you enjoy the blog. Take a look around, and of course, feel free to ask me any questions here, or send an email to

The Tell-Tale Heart - don't panic!

The playoffs are on, posting may be a little sporadic!

I always worry when I've been away from a project for awhile if I'll be in the same place when I get back. You try to do the same things and match everything up, but change just a little and the whole thing looks different. I hope after the week or so off this project, you can't see a change. I know when I was doing the layouts I would change day to day and I had to go back and change a whole bunch of stuff to make it more consistent.

But it was nice to get back to it! Especially because I finally did something sensible and brought the stereo downstairs. It hardly needs to be in the room next to the computer, after all! So maybe I can ween myself off tv and get some work done now. Especially since when I was all done I realized that if I traced the layout in coloured ink instead of black I would have a much easier time tracing it. Stupid! Three pages ago would have made my life so much easier. And made so much more sense.

Learning my lesson from the last page I kept my cool on these mistakes. Small typo, not big deal. I forgot the 'h' for some reason on the first pass, and so I made the 't' into one, added a little one on the end, and covered it up with an ink splotch. Easy! I did find a couple other mistakes on my layouts, I missed one word and misspelled another. But those were pretty easy to squeeze in.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Back to Work

My wonderful weekend over I had to come back home and get back to my real life. To give you a quick picture of life in Saskatchewan, here's another video. This is the first scene of one of my favourite shows, Corner Gas, set in a little town in Sask.

I'm sure you get the idea.

I've been busy the last few days, but not with much that's at all creative, and mostly just starting a couple things, including a fancy guestbook I'll have some photos of up in a couple. But for now I'll show you what I brought with me to Winnipeg. It was my mom's birthday gift, and the first time I'd embroidered (other than the leather book cover, which was very different) in years.

She loves blue delft and has a new townhouse to furnish, so this will go nicely, I hope! It's all silk: noil for the front, dupioni on the back, and two tones of silk embroidery thread so that it sort of looks likes it's shimmering. I even attempted to clean up the inside edges. I know you're wondering, so here's the back:

Nice and neat, eh?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Goin' to Winnipeg

A few years back Fountain Tire came out with a terrific commercial in which the annoying Fountain Tire guy is on a plane in a loud tropical shirt, talking excitedly to the two business men in sweaters next to him about vacationing in Hawaii. They look at him strangely and inform him this plane is destined for Winnipeg. He kind of nods, looks resigned and says "Goin' to Winnipeg." Which is what I'm doing this weekend. I packed up a few crafty things; namely, the bit of leather that is destined to cover The Tell-Tell Heart because I can embroider in the car. Not that I got very far despite the six hours of completely flat prairie (If you ever travel across Canada drive the Yellowhead through Alberta to Manitoba, it's much prettier). I blame Stephen Fry's Harry Potter audio books for that.

I forgot to take a photo before I left, of course. So, consequently, I wasn't going to post anything. However, I just made a big sale and I'm pretty excited. Four books! And some of my favourites. I'm going to miss the postcard book, it looks so nice with all of mine on display. Good thing I have an idea for another one. This is definitely the best sale I've made to date, and not having sold a painting in some time it's pretty exciting. Oh, I lie, the Caryn's Kite painting is getting sold - to Caryn no less! Beauty! And on that note, here's a bit of Winnipeg for you from local band The Weakerthans. One Great City! is the name of the song, taken from the signs welcoming you to the city.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Tell-Tale Heart - panic!

I got to work again today, my goal being two pages (or one full layout) a day. With writing on the first side it's now very difficult to see all the way through to the penciled words, so I traced over them in pen to make them darker. So when all is said and done I will have written this out three times to get the finished product. Then onto to real paper at last. When I got to the bottom I realized that I'd added an extra cut and there wasn't as much room as I'd planned on. So much for my careful layouts! But it ended up being easy enough to work around.

I put up this photo because I realized that last time I'd skipped a step. This is what is looks like between the background and the finished page. It's actually kind of lame and spindly here, before the scribbles and splatters and red highlights.

I went over quite a few of the letters to make them bolder, added scribbles, and started splattering the page a bit, just throwing a bit of ink at it. I remembered to put a piece of paper under the cuts to it wouldn't get on the pages underneath, and thought I was being quite clever until the ink spread under the paper onto the previous page. It actually looks pretty good, so no problems there except to rescan the page to reflect the changes.

The real problem came when I splattered some in the middle of the pages, and it seeped under and spread. Then I freaked out a little and tried to take some of the excess ink off, which just spread it around. argh! Stupid stupid stupid! So I panicked a little and turned it into a beetle cut-out because that's a little what it looked like. But it took up way more paper than if I'd thought about it and made a smaller circular gear, which would have been easier to rework the words around. Plus then it ended up going off the page, and I had to continue it on the next one. I didn't want to end up then having to continue it on the next and the next throughout the whole book. So I did it only in outline on the next page so that it doesn't look weird to have half a bug in the middle of a page. I removed the smears with some sandpaper and covered the last of it with some watercolour. It would have been so much easier if I'd just not touched it. I don't even have anything to blame it one, what with my gin and tonic sitting there untouched. Maybe next time I'll have it first, after all cucumber's are veggies and veggies are good for you.

Back to the point. I finished another page, and here it is.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Tell-Tale Heart - process and first pages

Finally I'm actually at the stage where I'm producing some finished pages. Here's my studio while I'm working on the text. I've got a (very) makeshift lighttable, consisting of glass leaning against some books with a little lamp under it because I'm broke and can't make a proper one right now. Oh well.

It's got the template for the entire book taped to it, on tracing paper, and on top of that is the individual page all penciled out, so I basically trace what I want onto the finished product.

Pages that are side by side get taped and done together so that they will look as seamless as possible once they are bound. I may got back through once it's all done to make sure, but that could be asking for trouble.

But let's get to the good stuff. The book is small enough to fit in my scanner, so the images are quite nice.

Opening page, just a bloody thumbprint. I like starting slowly.

Title page.

First page of the story. There's more red on here than I had planned. I used it to fill in the opening letter and emphasized words (anything in italic in the text is in those capital letters, as are the first letters in each sentance) and I guess I got carried away with all the large letters, 'I's, and filling in the background. It works for the first page, since that's usually got something to set it apart, but I may tone it down for the rest. The words didn't go on as smoothly as a would have liked. Partially my own fault, and partially because I'm using waterproof ink (so that I can paint on top) and it just doesn't flow very nicely in the nibs.

There's some paper cutting on the bottom right corner. I put the page underneath it for the scan, but that will look a little different with the words on, because you'll see through and really notice the outline of the cut paper.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Tell-Tale Heart - background

I've finally completed the background for the book. It took longer than expected, of course, but I did have to go to work in between so I suppose I won't let that bother me. I like it, I think it'll be really neat with the words on there, and shouldn't take too much tweeking, adding bits around th the big opening initials and whatnot to get it perfect.

First came the scribbles in sepia ink, supposed to look like the narrator's journal or something of the sort. I wrote out bits of the story and lots of 'once upon a time's actually, since it's illegible. There are little pictures of gears and stairs (from those M.C. Escher prints I've been looking at, see the post about the inspirations for the project) as well. I did the background for both pages of each layout together so that they would match in when it's bound together.

Next came some washes in navy blue and more sepia ink. This really reminds me of the 'Journal of Impossible Things' from Doctor Who, which was an awesome prop, but that could be just because I was watching the new one at the time. I am such a geek.

Close-up of the final product. The ink and paint did cause a little bit of warping around the delicate cuts, but I wanted it after the cuts regardless, because then the background would look correct in relation to the cuts and the edges wouldn't be bright white when the page wasn't.

The last step was to put 'bloody' fingerprints over it in my favourite fantastic scarlet red ink.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Tell-Tale Heart - an adventure in paper cutting

I've been working on the first stage of my new book. The paper. Nope, not even at the background yet. The paper's been folded and the large shapes have been cut out. And it's been taking quite awhile. Many hours at work the last couple of days, and then Pride and Prejudice at home. Is it even possible not to fall in love with Colin Firth after that? Hmmm, well.

So far, I'm fairly happy with this turned out. I may go through and add some small cuts along the edges. This photo of the first one didn't get much detail, but it got better as I went on, and I'll probably go back over this. I did rip a couple of things too, but the paper is thick enough that it doesn't matter.

Some of the beetles are meant to look, or at least be reminiscent, of gears.

I quite like this one! It's an escapement (that's what makes the tick-tock sound in mechanical watches) and gear train, and I think the negative/positive thing worked really really well.

It gets more complicated as it goes on, starting with the paper cutting, and it'll only get more complex as the background and text goes on it.